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Our Beloved Izze the Puppy

Izze the Puppy The year (2020) was very difficult for many people. For me and my family it was difficult because our wonderful 8-½ year old toy poodle puppy (Izze) suddenly died at the end of January of that year. She was very wonderful and we miss her so very much.

I always referred to her as a puppy because, in addition to being tiny (7 pounds; 8 pounds when we fed her too much), she always had a puppy energy, a puppy inquisitiveness looking for new things, and a puppy bounce in her step. Throughout her entire too-short life on a daily basis people would also ask if she was a puppy - I used to respond back that she is a pretend puppy.

The below picture is when she actually was a puppy of about 4 months old.

Izze the Puppy Her Best Strength Was Her Eyes/ Eye Contact.

Frankly, her eyes were similar to that of many dogs, but her eye contact was amazing. When we would go for our twice-daily walks she would be leading the way, confidently and happily going right up to one person after another, looking straight into their eyes. Her main goal seemed to be to get the people that we would come across to pet her - and of that she was very insistent and persuasive (I can only remember 1-2 times ever when her requesting to be petted was not met by success).

Izze the Puppy She would light up a room/ sidewalk.

At home she was a lap dog, happily sitting on our laps for hours at a time. That, going for walks, and barking at big dogs (to let them know who was the boss) were three of her daily big joys. While big dogs would frequently back away, or at least not come forward, probably a big reason for that was that they were confused, in that they had never before seen a rabid barking bunny (which is kind of what Izze would look like).

When she was walking (be it downtown or in our neighborhood) she seemed to alternate between her enthusiastic puppy walk and her graceful poodle walk - she would actually kind of do a hybrid of the two.

Daily walking adventures - the best part of my day.

Izze was always happy beyond happy to be going for a walk (like many dogs), even very early in the morning and very late at night. Unless I was very tired, or in a rush to go to work (she helped give me a little better balance the last several years), we would leisurely go on our walks, usually varying our routes. Sometimes she would choose the route and sometimes I would choose.

During our twice-daily walks she would almost always go hunting for (but never catching) bunnies, birds, squirrels, chipmunks and/or geese. She would sometimes get fairly close (but not really) to catching her prey. On the few occasions when the animal that we were chasing would not run away (in particular I remember this one bunny that was bigger than Izze) she would generally choose to go elsewhere, suddenly remembering that she had better things to do.

Izze the Puppy She was a people pleaser, but with major attitude.

Wherever she was (be it at home, our walking in the neighborhood or downtown, or in the car), her eyes and demeanor would reveal that she was always very interested in her surroundings and interested in the people that we would come upon. At home frequently when my wife and I would be talking she would be looking so intently it truly appeared (and maybe it was) that she was trying to understand what we were talking about. At home she also was very expressive in letting us know what she wanted, although many a time it seemed that she so wanted to speak English (or at least have us understand dog-speak) so that we could better communicate.

Izze the Puppy Her Best Skill.

When we would come upon a group of people in downtown St. Joseph, Michigan (say a 6-person group in a circle), she would insert herself right into the middle of the circle and then go up to each person individually, giving them an opportunity to pet her. She usually would rub up against them, or stand very close right next to them, and look right up into their eyes (making it abundantly clear what it was that she wanted). Almost always they would take the hint and happily comply - which would make both her and the person petting her happy. Then she would move on to the next person in the group. Most people would melt at that point. This was not a trick that I taught her, but rather a skill that she was born with, and that she loved exhibiting. On the rare occasion that she would miss one person in the group I would slightly point my finger in that person’s direction and she would happily bounce over to that person.

When we would be walking downtown in St. Joe she would basically zig zag down the sidewalk, going up to one person after another to be petted and/or complimented (both of which she basked in). Although she happily went up to people, almost as often people would come up to us asking to pet her. More than a few people told me that they saw Izze a block away and they just had to come over to meet and pet her. There were also many occasions during our walks when both Izze and I would see someone give that little look that says with their eyes that they really want Izze to come up to them - and you could see the joy in their faces when we would approach them, and when Izze would be so welcoming and loving to them.

At the end of our downtown St. Joe walks, when we would be turning the corner to our car, she frequently would be trying to guide me in a different direction or do a puppy protest (when she would either sit down and refuse to move or otherwise stand her ground), trying to extend her walk. Lots of times I would comply; other times I would need to pick her up and carry her to our car.

Although she was friendly to people of all ages, she seemed to have an extra affinity to linger when we were with an older person, a person alone, or a person with a disability, who seemed to need that extra bit of attention. Many a person said that Izze made their day.

I also recall one time that we were downtown, when there were lots of people downtown, and there was this one police officer driving by in his SUV who was looking down lovingly at her - I suspect that not too many criminals were caught by that officer that day.

Her record: 130 compliments.

People would often give Izze compliments during our walks that she happily (and appreciatively) basked in, with me frequently hearing people refer to her as cute, adorable, teddy bear, stuffed animal, beautiful, etc.

Her record for most compliments that I heard was from 130 people during a 2 hour walk downtown (that day about 2-3 dozen people petted her). One person even said I should charge people for petting her - I did not taking him up on that idea - as sometimes people would either line up to pet her, or be visibly hoping that Izze would come up to them where they were standing or sitting. Izze never disappointed, and she always gave out a humble and true aura of being appreciative of the attention.

Meeting people in our neighborhood.

If we were on a quiet street in our neighborhood, and someone was walking on the other side of the street, Izze would frequently pull me over to cross the street to meet that person (whether we knew them or not).

In the first 10 years that we lived in Naperville I got to know a few people who lived right on our street, but not all that many. Yet during the last 7 years that we lived there, as a result of walking Izze (and her confident foot-forward and welcoming personality to go right up to people) I got to meet, and know, many nice people throughout our pretty large subdivision.

Her Second Best Skill.

When we would be going on our walks we would frequently come upon other dogs going the other way. For some little dogs (it was almost always little dogs, but beyond that I could not really figure out the criteria) Izze would get down real low on the ground (like a sphinx) toward showing that she really really wanted to meet that little dog (her facial expression would be showing the same), which I always took as a show of respect by her toward that little dog. It was very adorable.

Izze the Puppy Outwardly it would seem that by her getting so low that she was being sort of subservient, but she would put a little twist into it (making clear that in fact she was not at all subservient). Just as the little dog (who may very well be 2-3 times Izze’s little size) would get close she would do a leap like a panther. I learned to try and warn people in advance - but she big-time startled more than a few owners (apparently they were not used to a cute little puppy suddenly turning into a demon Chucky doll). But after her little panther leap Izze would then be very friendly - usually saying hello briefly to the little dog before then moving over to charm the human who was her main interest.

Some things she would not do.

There were some things she did not do - she didn’t play fetch with a ball or stick; she didn’t like to go in the water, and hated baths (that was my wife’s job to do); and I did not feel comfortable on our walks having her be without a leash (I’m pretty sure I would have been running after her through yards and traffic as she would be chasing bunnies and squirrels).

The little Greeter.

We lived in Naperville for many years, and then moved to Chicago to a 20-story apartment building just off of Lake Shore Drive. Izze’s favorite thing to do at the apartment building was to be the “little greeter” in the lobby. She would happily go up to the door staff behind the front desk, as well as confidently walk up to people and dogs to say hello and get petted by the people (in particular, she loved to go up to anyone in the lobby who happened to be sitting on the couch) - she would not have done well with “social distancing”.

Petsmart - me and separately Grandpa.

Sometimes when we would travel someplace that Izze could not go we would take Izze to Petsmart to stay for the day or for a couple of nights. She enjoyed going there too, interacting with dogs more or less her size - although over and over again in the daily report cards that the Petsmart workers would write they would mention that Izze had sat in their laps during that entire time (when she was supposed to be interacting with other dogs, and when the workers were supposed to be interacting with all of the dogs, not just Izze).

My father-in-law mentioned that one time when he was at Petsmart for his dog, he looked into the glass area where there were dogs enjoying doggie day care, and there was this one dog that came right up to him and from the other side of the window was looking and looking at him, and that this dog looked just like Izze - and although my father-in-law did not know it at the time, it sure enough was Izze recognizing him through the glass.

Another time I came to Petsmart to pick up Izze when she was in that glass play area with many other dogs - all of whom (including Izze) were mesmerized by, and looking straight at, the Petsmart worker in the room. I was looking in from the side behind Izze (she could not see me), but somehow she sensed I was there and she (and she alone) turned her head to look at me, and then she came over to where I was. I still don’t know how she was aware that I was there.

She would frequently ride in the car with us - we took her all over.

Izze was well traveled. Our family would frequently go on car rides, and Izze would usually be with us, happily sitting on the lap of the person in the front passenger seat. She in particular enjoyed getting her Puppuccino at Starbucks (a cup filled with whipped cream), and a little nibble of what we would get at McDonald’s or some other fast food drive-through. One January when we were attending the women’s march in downtown Chicago she even got to go inside a pet-friendly McDonald’s. I would not have gone in with her but several people (employees and customers) said that other people had been bringing their dogs in all day, and my son was actually very hungry. She had a great time. I took a picture (below) to memorialize this.

Izze the Puppy

Her favorite place to go was to this store called Fuzzy Butts in St. Joe, where they would have fresh-baked dog treats. We made a point of going there on many weekends. When we were riding in the car going anywhere near the St. Joe downtown she would be very vocal in letting us know where she wanted to go - and frequently she got her way.

When we were in downtown Chicago near our apartment Izze very much enjoyed walking through the famers market, walking in Lincoln Park, and stopping off at the Ambassador Hotel (where the valets had a stash of delicious treats that they would give out to the dogs that would come by). Izze would regularly lead the way on the 3 block walk to get to the Ambassador Hotel, but that was not particularly unique as I spoke with other dog owners who likewise said their dogs would do the same. There also was a little grocery store in our apartment building that would give out treats, and Izze had a particularly adorable way of eating her treat - she would bring her treat over to the rug at the other end of the lobby and happily chow down.

A few times I brought her to my office on LaSalle Street. Provided below is Izze at my office in the Loop, tired after a long day’s work, and apparently taking a little cat nap.

Izze the Puppy She was a terror to big dogs.

You know those trouble-making little dogs, who bark bark bark at big dogs - that was definitely Izze. Some big dogs she would be fine with, but others not so much.

She was like a Tasmanian Devil when we would come upon German Shepherds, Doberman Pinchers and, curiously, some apparently fierce looking Golden Retrievers. For the first two I would need to pick her up and take her across the street, as she struggled mightily to get at her perceived nemesis - even though she was all bark and absolutely no bite.

Izze the Puppy Bicycle Riding.

For a couple of years when Izze was around 2-4 years old we would on occasion have Izze ride in a bike basket on the front handlebars of our bicycle. Ultimately we concluded that it wasn’t particularly safe, and we stopped doing this. Izze though was a trooper, and seemed to be very excited when we would be riding along - although in retrospect I think she might have been very scared.

There were also a couple of scary incidents. One time when we were in our backyard in Naperville a raccoon ran right by her a few inches away. For a couple days she was scared to go in the backyard (who could blame her), but then it seemed like she totally forgot about that. Another time she was again in our backyard (this time sitting on my wife’s lap), and a hawk swooped down from the sky to get within a few feet of Izze. Perhaps Izze did not continue to remember that, but both my wife and I were frequently looking up in the sky when Izze was outside thereafter, to make sure there were no hawks nearby.

Her puppy boyfriend.

While Izze definitely preferred to meet and be around people rather than dogs, there was one exception - Dee-o-jay (phonetic), a terrier about the same age as Izze, but approximately 3 times her size, who lived around the block about 15 houses away.

Frankly, Dee-o-jay didn’t look like anything special to me (what do I know) - but Izze was smitten (the heart wants what the heart wants) - and Dee-o-jay also very much liked Izze.

There were a couple hundred houses in our subdivision, but there was only one house were Izze ever would go up the walkway to the front door, and that was Dee-o-jay’s house. And she would not merely walk up to the front door, but rather she would also paw at the door and give me “that look” - which in this situation meant that she wanted me to either knock on the door or ring the doorbell. Had it been someone I knew that would have been one thing, but at the outset I did not even know the people (a husband and wife) who lived there.

Over and over again Izze would do this at the front of Dee-o-jay’s house, and she would refuse on her own to leave, despite my asking/ pleading - so I would have to pick her up for us to be on our way. This happened 3-4 times before I got up the courage to ring the doorbell (of people I did not then know) to explain that Izze wanted to say hello to their dog. One time, early on, I rang the doorbell in the middle of the day on a weekend, and the husband came downstairs very bleary-eyed (unbeknownst to me he had been sleeping from working the night shift at his job). But he was good-natured about it.

Ultimately, I became good friends with them. Sometimes we would go on walks together and other times we would go into their backyard, with me chatting with the husband or wife while Izze would happily play with Dee-o-jay. Although I believe that Izze adored Dee-o-jay, she still would let him know who was the boss. When we were in their backyard Dee-o-jay had this huge roundish bone that was bigger than the size of Izze’s head. Well Izze claimed it as her own (even though it wasn’t hers, and even though she could not even lift it), and she gave Dee-o-jay a very fierce growl that Dee-o-jay knowingly realized meant that he better just stay far away from his bone while Izze was there - Dee-o-jay smartly kept his distance.

We so missed Izze that we had to get another puppy dog.

Because our family was so sad at Izze dying, approximately 2 months later we got another puppy. My son and I are both allergic to many dogs, so we decided to get another toy poodle (Annie). Annie’s personality and mannerisms are entirely different from Izze. While Izze was a people dog (I often said that she “likes dogs, loves people”), Annie by contrast is a dog’s dog. She doesn’t particularly like being petted by anyone but my wife (and, on occasion, me), but she very much loves to confidently go right up to dogs, big and small : and at the dog park she is a little Julie McCoy Cruise Director, going from dog to dog happily - and assertively - directing the games to be played (such as wrestling, chase, etc.). ).

Annie’s best friend is the big dog next door that I always refer to as “Big Dog”. Here they are when Annie was 8-months old:

Izze the Puppy

Annie has her own distinct personality, and has had her own adventures - but Annie’s very nice (and continuing) story is for the telling on another day.

Izze was a wonderful force of nature.

Here are two more pictures of Izze:

Izze the Puppy Izze the Puppy

Izze was wonderful, joyful, and made so many people happy/ happier in their day. We miss our puppy daughter.

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